The Institutional Construction of Firms

Richard Whitley

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Institutional Analysis

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199233762
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 The Institutional Construction of Firms

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Firms are commonly understood to be critical economic actors in capitalist societies. The view of firms as privately owned authoritative coordinators and directors of human and material resources suggests a number of dimensions for analysing how they vary between institutional environments. These can be combined into two major sets of characteristics that can be used to distinguish between the kinds of leading firms. First, those dealing with issues of ownership, control, and direction, commonly referred to as governance concerns. The second set consists of characteristics that deal with the processes involved in coordinating and managing resources to create and maintain distinctive organizational capabilities. This article describes these characteristics of leading firms in more detail. It also describes the major features of dominant institutions that influence how firm governance and capabilities can be expected to vary between differently organized economies.

Keywords: economic actors; capitalist societies; ownership; governance; capabilities

Article.  18831 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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